Keep your eye on the ball

Carroll Smith,

If you were ever taught to play a sport successfully, you were probably told to keep your eye on the ball. Stay focused. Look at the right place at the right time. This also is good training to help you achieve your goals in life or even produce a healthy, bountiful rice crop. 

Determine what you are trying to accomplish and then pay attention to what it will take to get there. This month’s cover story is about the Rice Leadership Development Program. If you are 25 to 45 years of age and aspire to having a positive impact on the future of our rice industry, it would be worth your while to apply to this program. 

According to The Rice Foundation, the Rice Leadership Development Program “gives future leaders a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills. The class attends four one-week sessions over a two-year period that encompasses studies of all aspects of the rice industry through firsthand observations.” If those who are chosen to be in the program “keep their eye on the ball,” they will have a good chance of achieving the goals they have set for themselves.

Dr. Steve Linscombe, who directs the program on behalf of USA Rice and The Rice Foundation, said, “I’ve never heard anyone say that it was a mistake; everybody that has been through the program says, ‘This is one of the best things I’ve done.’”

Switching gears to the production side of rice, consider how you might prepare for the potential threat of a fall armyworm invasion this year. The pest sneaked in early last year and caught everyone off guard. On page 19, Nick Bateman, University of Arkansas Extension entomologist, recaps what happened and shares some “lessons learned.” He also discusses how defoliation thresholds are gaining popularity over number of worms per square foot.

The take home message here is to keep your eye on your fields and learn what 10% versus 20% rice defoliation looks like.

“In a year like this where it’s going to be more costly in general to produce the crop, I am going to let the armyworms prove to me they can get up to those defoliation thresholds before I spray for them,” Bateman said.

It’s no secret that this rice growing season has the potential to be challenging on several fronts. That’s why it’s important to concentrate on what you are trying to accomplish, don’t let your guard down and always keep your eye on the ball.

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